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Continuing Education: Being Billy Madison

Many Long Island colleges offer programs designed to entice adult-students to finish their degrees

by Elaine Piniat

The rate of college drop-outs has been increasing over the years. According to national statistics, one in four college freshman drops out within the first year and just 54 percent of students entering a four-year college had a degree six years later.

Some of the top reasons for dropping out of college include financial pressure, academic disqualification due to being academically unprepared, homesickness, poor social fit, health problems, mental or emotional issues and choosing the wrong major or school.


Few students who drop out eventually return and finish their education. But not all college dropouts are permanent dropouts. Some transfer to another school, while others take time off before returning.

“I am working with a gentleman now who dropped out in the early ’90s because he got a good job and now he wants to come back and complete his degree because it’s a goal he never achieved,” says Rita Jorgensen, director of Non-Traditional Students at C.W. Post. “He is still a relatively young man and he knows that finishing that degree can only help him.”

Of the 510 new transfer students enrolled for the Fall 2010 semester at C.W. Post, 27 percent are over the age of 25. Jorgensen says these returning learners use the break since their last college stint as a positive. “So many of them do well,” she says. “They’re motivated and they are so committed and most of them feel like they are totally different people than when they were in their 20s.”

According to Jorgensen, the most popular majors for adult-learners are nutrition, health care administration, accounting, business, and education. Although the rate of college drop-outs is increasing, so is the rate of students’ re-entry, so many colleges are beginning to offer unique programs to assist the special needs of adult-learners.

If interested in returning to school, look into the programs offered by your school. Below are just some of the programs offered to adult-students by Long Island’s colleges:

C.W. Post

• Non-Traditional Student Program to assist re-entry students, which includes the Return-to-Learning program, Orientation Sessions, Life Experience Credit Program and the Returning Adult Scholarship.

• Life Experience Credit is credit given in recognition of knowledge obtained in ways other than study at a two- or four-year accredited college.

Stony Brook University

• The Research Skills workshop teaches adult-learners to access Stony Brook University resources from off-campus, find necessary scholarly articles for assignments, explore the library’s collection of electronic books and reference material and use Suffolk Web and WorldCat to find local resources.

Hofstra University

• Saturday College, a program that admits students who wish to complete an undergraduate degree within four years without interrupting their career or responsibilities.

• Also offers hundreds of workshops, seminars, conferences, lectures, events and courses to adult learners.

Adelphi University

• Adult Baccalaureate Learning Experience (ABLE) was established in 1973, now known as University College, for the education of adults and recently became the newest member of the Council on Adult and Experiential Learning’s (CAEL) Coalition of Adult Learning Focused Institutions (ALFI).

• Adult Academic Programs and Certificate Programs allow adult students balancing careers and families to earn their associate’s or bachelor’s degree quickly, through four-credit courses held at convenient times and locations.

More articles filed under Continuing Education,Special Series

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